Jer 20:7-9/Ps 63:2. 3-4. 5-6. 8-9/ Rom 12:1-2/ Mt 16:21-27
Last Sunday we read of Simon Peter recognizing and professing Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God. That earned him the name Peter, and the keys of the Kingdom. The incident was a highpoint in the development of the mission of Christ. “From that time on, Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21)
Popular Jewish belief in the time of Jesus expected a Messiah who would bring instant glory to Israel in terms of military success, wealth and prosperity. The disciples shared this belief. So when Peter heard the Lord announces that he must first endure the cross, he figured that Jesus made a mistake. “So he took Jesus aside and rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord. This must not happen to you (22). Peter can’t accept the idea that the Messiah will be humiliated. Quite the contrary, he will humiliate all the enemies of Israel.
Peter was asking the Lord to abandon the hard way of the Messiah for the easy way of the world—all crown without the cross.
Although the Lord has called Peter the Rock a few moments back, he now looks at Peter and says to him, “Get behind me Satan!”
Jesus summarizes Peter’s whole problem in one sentence: You are not by God’s standard but by man’s: Man’s standard: be comfortable, seek security and enjoy life (all crown/no cross). Christ’s standard: endure tour cross first (no cross / no crown)
-The gospel of Christ is a coin with two sides: CROSS AND CROWN – both have to be embraced.
-to carry the cross does not mean fatalism. It does not mean that we should accept our fate and not improve our lot. Anything that makes life convenient is most welcomed and should be encouraged
Today’s gospel challenges us to say NO to the very attractive but one-sided worldly gospel of the INSTANT GLORY – the sugar coated gospel that offers false promise of NO CROSS ALL CROWN
2 kinds of sufferings:
- unnecessary-the suffering I bring upon myself through my own neglect/stupidity
(inflicted by myself or others)
- necessary – suffering involved in growing up. Admitting mistakes, struggling against a problem, accepting reality, giving up a vice or addiction.
True wisdom recognizes one from the other and humbly accepting necessary sufferings and avoiding what is unnecessary.
Always remember: Christ did not come to wipe out our tears but to make our tears holy.
Is 56:1, 6-7
Rm 11: 13-15. 29-32
At the back of our minds, sometimes we wonder why our prayers don’t always get dramatic results as the woman’s prayer in the Gospel. Maybe it is because we don’t have enough love, enough humility and enough faith.
Take note of the woman’s way of making her request—she did not blame God for allowing her innocent daughter to be tormented by demons; her humble attitude which enables her to accept the Lord’s initial rejection; her persistence to come back right back with another petition; her utmost love for her daughter. Love, faith and humility—these are the paramount elements for prayer that moves the heart of God.
Three times, the woman was rejected: first, Jesus did not answer her; second, Jesus refused his disciples’ plea on her behalf; third, when Jesus said that the children’s food should not be given to the dogs. It was only on the fourth time when her request was granted: “Woman you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.”
Why the delay in answering the pleas of the woman? Why allow the child to agonize for so long? We humans do not have the full answer to these piping questions. Human suffering is a mystery but behind the mystery is the assurance that all things will eventually work together for the good of all who have love, faith, and humility.
Reflection: Many Christians today are fascinated or even more they are inclined to worship services that are like rock concerts. They like the noise and music that make them feel good in themselves. This is a sad reality that is much different from the experience of the Prophet Elijah in our 1st Reading, God is in the tiny whispering sound, not in the rushing wind, in the earthquake, not in the lighting, and not in the fire.